Wanting is not expected utility

Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

In this paper, I criticize Ethan Jerzak’s view that ‘want’ has only one sense, the mixed expected utility sense. First, I show that his appeals to ‘really’-locutions fail to explain away the counterintuitive predictions of his view. Second, I present a class of cases, which I call “principled indifference” cases, that pose difficulties for any expected utility lexical entry for ‘want’. I argue that in order to account for these cases, one needs to concede that ‘want’ has a sense, according to which wanting is a matter of subjectively preferring p-alternatives to not-p-alternatives. Finally, I introduce some considerations for and against the view that ‘want’ also has another sense, which is roughly synonymous with ‘need’.

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Tomasz Zyglewicz
CUNY Graduate Center

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Studies in the way of words.Herbert Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
On what grounds what.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.

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